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Electronic eyes

Every employer faces theft issues.

But few operators face offenders as brash as the one Jeff Finkhousen encountered at Brick Oven Pizza Co. in Auburn, Ala. Finkhousen’s wife thought she lost her magnetic stripe I.D. for the POS system, but an employee stole it.

“A change to a pizza (order) came up in the kitchen when I happened to be there,” said Finkhousen, owner of the pizzeria. “I saw it, realized it was my wife’s (I.D. number) and I immediately caught him.” Finkhousen credits his POS system with making such thefts tough for employees, not to mention giving him the ability to track all questionable transactions, inventory variances and labor schedule changes. In essence, his POS system is a cyber-manager that minds the myriad details he can’t monitor with a single pair of eyes. Even when employees truly make mistakes, the POS system ensures the boss doesn’t get ripped off, such as when customers request mixed toppings combos. Should an order come in for half pepperoni and half “supreme,” Finkhousen said his POS system knows to charge $1 extra for the pepperoni side and $10 for the supreme side.

“I’ve had other businesses for the last 11 years, and I’ve always had a point-of-sale system in those and in my pizza business,” said Finkhousen, whose system now requires fingerprint I.D. “I don’t see how people can use just a cash register and really track what’s going on.”

Speedline Systems marketing manager Jennifer Wiebe said POS systems accurately manage all cash drawer activity and allow managers to conduct unannounced blind counts. Not knowing how much the cash drawer should contain removes a cashier’s ability to manipulate the amount.

“The system always knows how much should be in there,” Wiebe said. “It also manages floats for servers and drivers so that when they check out, you know who owes what.”

Finkhousen said his POS system makes quick work of end-of-shift checkout for his servers. “Closing out a server takes 5 minutes at most,” he said. “It takes a lot of the legwork out of trying to keep things straight throughout the day and night.”

Revealing hidden costs

Wiebe pointed to a POS system’s ability to watch other costs such as labor and food. Employees can’t clock in before their scheduled time, and with fingerprint I.D. systems, other employees can’t swipe I.D. cards for coworkers.

POS systems also help operators track what Wiebe called “bad apple customers” who regularly try to scam operators for free meals. “You may be too busy to notice you have a problem with a customer who’s always calling in wanting a freebie, but the POS identifies that easily.”

Wiebe also said the system can, at the time an order is placed, red flag customers who’ve paid with bad checks in the past, and allow the owner to choose whether to serve that customer.

A POS system that’s set up to know what ideal inventory pars and ideal food cost also will notify the owner of unusual variances between the two. Problems such as food waste and theft can “identified more quickly and near the time the problems occur so they can be solved sooner,” Wiebe said.


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